Airbnb to harness social media to ‘think global, act local’

Airbnb is to pivot campaigns around social media in a bid to put its host community front and centre of its communications as it looks to support a more unified brand strategy worldwide.

The business is attempting to establish the value of social media in delivering its service to the market. While the likes of Facebook and Twitter have played a core part in the brand’s growth to date, the aim is to reassemble its channels to support the “Belong Anywhere” strategy, which launched earlier this year alongside the brand’s redesigned and controversial logo.

Airbnb’s shift in marketing mindset is conveyed through a million dollar campaign that urges its members to start the year on an altruistic note by spending money on strangers. Some 100,000 hosts have been selected at random to receive $10 which they are then encouraged to use to fund a creative gesture or random of act of kindness.

Participants are urged to share details about their good deeds online with the #OneLessStranger hashtag in an attempt to foster good will around Airbnb following a year that saw its redesigned logo cause a stir on social media for resembling genitalia. The business has also had to deal with the ongoing reaction to its business model, which has been backed by some people for allowing them to make money from their homes, while others have lamented the disruption it has caused to the rental market in some countries.

Holly Clarke, EU marketing manager, told The Drum that its retooled social media push would aim to attract new customers in emerging markets such as Asia, while ensuring “our existing community remains loyal and happy”. Over 26 million total guests have stayed with Airbnb since it was founded in 2008 and in the UK the business is at “118 per cent outbound growth year-on-year".

“Our marketing efforts are two-fold,’ added Clarke. “ Since we appointed Jonathan Mildenhall as out new CMO a few months ago, we inevitably started thinking differently and delivered global campaigns under the ‘Belong Anywhere’ umbrella. We do, however have teams working in a number of offices around the world that can both tailor global campaigns and produce localised efforts to support the over-arching message.”

The focus on fostering one creative idea that can resonate in many markets is a balance Mildenhall’s previous employers Coca-Cola try to achieve through their ‘think global, act local’ approach to marketing. Airbnb will be hoping to mine his expertise in the months to come to achieve a similar outcome, while also preserving local needs and specific cultural nuances.

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